Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja
The Women Empowerment Technology Centre (WTEC) yesterday lamented the widening gap existing between girls and boys in information and communication technology (WTEC) across the federation.
WTEC, however, said that her organisation “is aggressively working to close the gap,” which according to her, could further undermine women in making contribution to decision making in technology.
The Founder of WTEC, Mrs. Opeoluwa Lesi expressed the concern at a one-day symposium forum to celebrate the world day on Girls in ICT, where the girls exhibited their creativity in the area of creating ICT devices.
Speaking at the forum, Lesi said: “We are working to close the gender gap in technology. We are celebrating two things.
First we are celebrating two things: the Girls in ICT day, which comes up every last Thursday of April.
“It is a day set aside by the ITU to create awareness about the gender gap in technology and to celebrate women and Girls in Technology.
“We are also celebrating the Girls of Marke, a space programme aimed at teaching young girls and women to create and build technology using digital electronics and engineering and technology based principles.
“It is on this ground that the girls are building tools and devices to solve problems in their local communities. We started an exhibition of some of the projects that they have built. So we are here to celebrate them.”
She also spoke on the achievements of WTEC, saying, “Since 2008, we have worked with over 36 thousand girls and women empowering and equipping them with technology and engineering skills.
“Out of this number, we have 25 percent of them currently studying Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in the universities; some of them have graduated and are working already.
“We have 57 percent of our alumni who are making money with skills they acquired from our programme. They might not be in tech, but are using tech skills to create value and earn money. We hope to work with about 4,000 girls and women per year.”
She said: “Everything we do is collaboration. Google is sponsoring our project. They have given funding, capacity building training to support us doing this programme. We are also partnering with a non-profit organisation based in Abuja to help recruit and organise.
“In Lagos where we have a lot of programmes we partner with the Ministry of education, they basically provide support and approval. So, we can work with girls in schools. We have also worked with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in 14 federal colleges across Nigeria.”
She identified funding and finding the right partners are some of the challenges in organising and running our programme.
Also at the symposium, Managing Partner, Sprout Digital, Damilola Anwo-Ade acknowledged a technology gap between the males and the females, asking the governments to come in and help close the gap.
She said: “We have a technological gender bias because we do not have enough women in tech. To get women in tech, the young girls need to start now to understand technological access and to know how to be safe online.
“The more women we have creating technology, the more women we have in decision-making roles in technology, the better for us,” Anwo-Ade said in her keynote address.